Category: Interviews

InterviewsModel Behavior: Meet Neva Kaya

I had the pleasure of interviewing Neva Keva, not only a model, but a model citizen.

We first got to know Neva as a model for our vintage line here at Lulus. With her deep brown eyes and trendy fringe bangs, Neva has a strikingly beautiful presence, but as you will see, this young woman possesses not only looks, but plenty of heart.

Here, Neva shares her journey into modeling, what you may find her doing in her spare time and what inspired her passion for man’s best four-legged friend.

How did you make your way into the modeling business?

My family is originally from Serbia, but I grew up in Puerto Rico. If you asked where I was from and I could only give one answer, I would say I’m from Puerto Rico. I am so grateful that I was lucky enough to spend my life as a kid in paradise.

As a teenager, I spent a lot of time in Montauk, New York, in the summers. One of my closest friends lived there, so I got a summer job and spent a few summers out there, working and hanging out with her. We’d take the train into the city (Manhattan) a lot, because it was so close and fun and easy.

And one day, I decided to go check out modeling agencies. So I just went to a bunch of open calls, and while I was in the elevator leaving one of the last open calls of the day, I met a photographer who asked me if I wanted to shoot an editorial for V magazine that weekend, which was crazy because I didn’t even have an agency yet but I had just booked a shoot for a really awesome magazine.

So I guess that’s how it started … a bored teenager with a summer job and a metro card, haha.

What do you love most about your job?

The rewards are many, but the best ones to me are the flexible schedules and the travel … but mostly the travel!

I’ve had the opportunity go to some amazing locations for jobs, but even more than traveling for jobs, I love that I can pick up and go to New York (I live in L.A.) for a few months and know that I at least have the chance to go out on castings and try to book work. Having agencies in different cities and just being able to pick up and go live somewhere different to me is awesome.

The summer I was 18, my boyfriend broke up with me, so I flew to Paris. I didn’t have an agency. I had my portfolio, and after a week of running around on open calls, I not only had an agency but an apartment was set up for me. It was a slow time to be in Paris, and I was broke most of the time, but you think I cared? I was running around exploring the city and eating Nutella-filled crepes. :)

What plans do you have for the future?

My plans for the future change every day, but I am so happy to be able to say that I have found one thing that truly makes me happy and fills me no matter what else I end up having on my plate a few years from now.

I recently went to Guatemala with my boyfriend, and although the area we visited was one of the most beautiful places I have seen (Lake Atitlan), the amount of suffering and starvation when it came to the stray dog population there was heartbreaking. I don’t know if it’s because I grew up with a dog-crazy mother who was always rescuing stray dogs, or if I just have this intense connection with dogs, but being there hurt me so much.

I’ve traveled to many impoverished places before (and yes, I have “smuggled” dogs back to the states and gotten them adopted, more on that on my site), but the Guatemala trip was extra hard. So when I came back to the states, I sat down with my boyfriend and figured some stuff out.

I realized that I have the ability to help on a much bigger level than dragging around a Hefty trash bag of homemade dog food mush that I made in my hotel kitchen and feed to whatever strays I came across while on vacation, and well, that’s how got started. It’s a non-profit group I started to spay and neuter dogs in impoverished areas outside of the U.S.

I’d love it if your readers went on my site since its fairly new, and I love getting feedback and suggestions on any way to make it, and my charity, as great as can be.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time, just for fun?

For fun, I read. I have so many books that I LOVE. Some all time faves are Atlas Shrugged, She’s Come Undone, Outliers, Ana Karenina, Bonfire of the Vanities, Kitchen Confidential and Same Soul, Many Bodies. It’s a random grouping, but I just looked over my shoulder and picked some favorites off my bookshelf.

I also love to explore food. A perfect Sunday for me is when my boyfriend and I drive around and try out little food dives. We usually go by word of mouth or an article we’ve read, where someone will randomly mention “oh I had this great burger,” and we like memorize what they ate and where and then barely hear the rest of the conversation or read the rest of the article.

I’ve always said, if I didn’t have a high metabolism I wouldn’t model. Food is too big a part of my life to have to obsess about it. I know girls who eat like a green apple, a hard boiled egg and that’s it. It’s gross and sad and lame all at the same time, but mostly lame. What percentage of the worlds population is starving? And you’re starving yourself BY CHOICE?

Sorry, I just get annoyed because I go to NYC like once a year for few months to work, and I can never find anyone to go explore pizza joints with. So it’s a sore subject.

Describe your style and any fashion trends you follow.

Trends, hmmmm. I can live in black skinny jeans (Jbrand), Black Fiorentini and Baker motorcycle boots and a slinky, low-cut black tank, or a black James Perse tank. That’s my outfit, and I’m sticking to it. :)

I really don’t follow trends. I believe in quality over quantity. I will splurge and pay a lot of $$$ when I see a piece of clothing I love. Since I am not a frequent shopper, I know my impulses are trustworthy. Like a lacy Dolce & Gabbana top that fits the description impulse buy I wore to death.

I don’t have a statement piece or a specific style, but because of my hair (my bangs), clients always throw me into this weird rocker rebel girl category, and they don’t realize my style is a product of my laziness, haha.

Check out Neva sporting her cute and stylish looks on our vintage page, and don’t forget to visit Neva’s website,, to learn more about her efforts to help stray dogs in third world communities.

InterviewsAli Lee our Vintage Model Extroardinaire!

After Kathleen did her interview with Nikia (and we realized that our models were pretty amazing young women), we decided to try and involve more of the models into the blog as often as possible. This week I got in contact with Ali Lee, who wrote me some pretty amazing things about her life, how she got into modeling and what her favorite items of the season are.

“Modeling, like dancing, is an outlet that I can use to express myself through movement and expression.– Ali Lee

After studying classical ballet for 12 years, Ali Lee made it into a modeling agency in her home of Hawaii. There is something to say about the fact that Ali grew up in Hawaii, where she states, she found beauty in many different forms, but focused most of [her] energy into [her] dancing.” After dancing for so long, Ali Lee was trained to work hard and soon started modeling for trunk shows, fashion shows, and even got to walk for Chanel!

Ali took a break from modeling to go behind the scenes and study film at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. It wasn’t until her senior year, when Ali became friends with a musician in L.A. and started performing in his music videos, that she hopped back on the main stage.

Ali says this of modeling:I love being in front of the camera, and I have my love for the stage to thank.

“Fashion is an extremely fickle world, but I feel like you can never go wrong with simple basics. A good fitting pair of tapered black pants are necessary, and its worth it to splurge a little. I am currently looking for the perfect pair of black, buttery leather ankle boots with buckles and an Inspector Gadget style trench coat.” — Ali Lee

InterviewsModel Behavior: Meet Nikia Phoenix

If you’ve checked out our vintage section lately, then you couldn’t have missed our newest model, Nikia Phoenix. With her signature freckles and gorgeous look, Nikia has been building a reputable modeling career, moving from the runway to magazines and now to!

I had the pleasure of interviewing Nikia and thought you guys would love the chance to get to know her better.

1. Is being a model all it’s made up to be? 
It has its advantages, and also its hardships. Being a model isn’t always glamorous, but that’s the portrait I paint when I step in front of the camera. I live the life of a starving artist, but it’s what I chose to do. I may not always get paid for what I do, but I love to do it. Because of this profession, I’ve met the most wonderful people. Their creativity and drive encourage me to keep doing what I do.  

2. Who is your greatest inspiration and why?
My greatest inspiration is my family. They are so loving and supportive even when they don’t understand me.  Everyone in my family is very spiritual, especially my grandmother. She’s practically a saint. This woman willingly and unselfishly gives so much of herself. God always blesses her for it, and the blessings trickle down to the rest of us. 

3. How do you stay healthy, both body and mind?
A lot of meditation and discipline. I try to exercise everyday and read something other than news and blogs. The news can be very depressing, so I try to read things that are good for my soul. My boyfriend tries his hardest to make me eat healthy food. I’m from the South, where we fry everything, but he makes me steer clear away from fatty comfort food. Let’s just be honest: there’s nothing nutritional about fried chicken.

4. What is your favorite splurge?
I’m actually pretty frugal, but I will splurge on good food. Dessert especially. Funny that this question comes right after the “staying healthy” one.  I have a sweet tooth. I know that if I overindulge, I’ll be sick. That’s why I always suggest sharing your sweets with the people you love. My sister and I always leave room for dessert, and eat it together (when I’m around, of course).

5. Favorite movie of all time?
The Godfather, but I can’t choose between Part One and Part Two. I love the combination of Al Pacino and Marlon Brando, and then Pacino and Robert DeNiro. I even quote the movies quite often, but few of my friends understand what I’m taking about. “Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.”  See, even gangsters know how important dessert is.

6. What can’t you leave the house without?
Chapstick. Preferably Carmex.  

7. What did you have for breakfast this morning?
A cup of Earl Grey and an English muffin. On the weekends, I’ll go all out with pancakes, french toast, biscuits, etc.  Basically anything that can potentially be sweet.

8. Any pet peeves?
Disorder and dishonesty. I can’t work with chaos, and I don’t like people lying to me. And I really can’t stand it when someone leaves lights on when no one’s in the room. A small lamp is fine, but let’s not waste energy. I have moments of OCD when I go around turning off lights and rearranging things. Perhaps I need psychiatric assistance.  

9. Describe your perfect outfit.
A vintage soft t-shirt, colorful scarf, comfy slim-fitting jeans, cute heels and stare-at-me earrings. I can run errands without feeling constricted and go out for dinner without looking drab.   

10. New must haves for this year?
Over-the-knee boots and a cute leather jacket. You can never go wrong with a couple of classics.  

If you want to hear more about Nikia (and I’m sure you will!), pay a visit to her awesome blog, Model Liberation, and also check out an interview with Nikia and her mom on the Tyra Banks Show below.

InterviewsPeep Show: Madison Blackley for Nikita

When I was still in design school, I played soccer with a girl who designed action sports clothing for women and men, mostly for snowboarding and BMX. She was always wearing the coolest printed tees and hoodies, and when I asked her where she got them, she introduced me to this awesome company called Nikita.

Nikita is a girls clothing line made especially for the girl who will ride down any mountain, no matter how steep. Since just started carrying some Nikita hoodies (the Fandango Hoodie [sold out!] and the Faithful Sweater [sold out!]), I was given a totally awesome opportunity to get in contact with one of the sponsored snowboarders from the Nikita website, Madison Blackley!

How did you get into boarding?

MB: Well, growing up in Park City, there really was not much to do in the winter but ski. I started skiing when I was about 3, and when the resorts opened up to snowboarding, I thought I would hop on that train and see what it was all about. My dad started snowboarding way before people knew what it was, so I already thought it was pretty sick.

What are your favorite memories of boarding?

MB: The best time snowboarding for me was in 8th grade. I was 13, and in Park City all schools have half-days on Fridays, so me and basically every other kid in PC would head up there and shred and ride pipe till it closed at 9:00 p.m. A hundred of your best friends all chillin’ on the hill … oh, the days of no worries.

What are your favorite tricks?

MB: Lately this season, I have been into the Front Blunt 270, 180 switch 5-0. I also just recently got Frontside 540 Nosegrabs on lock! Anything that looks smooth and styley I am down for.

Where are your favorite places to ride?

MB: Since I hail from Park City, I have gotten to love Utah so much. I don’t think I will ever leave. You have Brighton for insane powder and rails. Park City for all things park, and then good ol’ SLC (Salt Lake City) for those midnight handrail sessions. When I’m not at home in Utah, I do love Mammoth Park laps, and Whistler or Mt. Hood in the summer.

We just started carrying Nikita and are super stoked about it. How did you get into Nikita clothes, and when/how did you get sponsored?

MB: Nikita has been my favorite company for way longer than I have been riding for them. I had always dreamed of riding for them, and then on their first year making outerwear, I bought a jacket and was in love! I just did my snowboard thing that year — competed, filmed and started talking to people — then BAM! Before you knew it, Nikita here I come!

What are your favorite things to wear, and how would you define your style?

MB: I think Nikita definitely defines my style. I don’t have a set image. I mostly go on comfort. Although you will NEVER catch me in a dress, I guess you could say I’m a colorful tomboy. New Era caps, with girly glasses, a basic hoodie and some Nikita denim and some sneaks. That’s about it, every day all day.

You are involved in a project called the Peep Show, a group of women that make boarding films. Can you explain your filming interests and how they relate to boarding? How often do you guys make movies?

MB: Peep Show is a group of up-and-coming girl riders who unfortunately might not get any other film opportunities, but also deserve and are more than good enough to show for it.  It shows more of the down and dirty riding lifestyle rather than the fame, glitzy side.

I was really excited to be working with these girls, because filming has always been way more important to me then competing. I would rather have the dopest video part ever than winning the X Games. Riding park and mountain is WAY different than street rails and powder. You gotta have balls to do it … I’m just gonna say that.

Here is a video of Madison riding that I think is pretty sweet. I am totally amazed at what the girl can do (that’s obvious, I guess!) so check it out!

Thanks, Madison, and good luck this year riding!

InterviewsOh, For the Love of JC!

Lulus has long been a lover of Jeffrey Campbell, also known affectionately as “JC”. What girl can say no to the beauty, comfort, and carefully crafted pieces of art that envelope your feet? So, it was with girlish curiosity that we interviewed the tres amusant Ty McBride, Jeffrey Campbell Brand Specialist, curator for all JC shoe “art”, personality and shoe expert extraordinaire:

Ty McBride, describe a day in your shoes.

“That’s what I love about working for a small company — we all wear so many hats. We all truly collab to work together on everything. I do sales, tradeshows, but also oversee a lot of the fun creative projects. I’m the official JC blogger and tweet-master!”

What’s your favorite part about going to tradeshows?

“I suppose it’s seeing my favorite clients. I am based in NYC, so somethings I don’t get to catch up with my clients and friends from Saint Louis, Chicago, or Texas. We have AMAZING CLIENTS.”

If you were any kind of shoe, what would you be?

“Oh gosh. A lucite platform with bottom lights. I love trashy.”

What should we look for in heel and boot trends for Fall 2009? How about Spring 2010? 

“Well Spring 2010 is still in the secret vault. For Fall, I would say you should take my advice on the following: GRAB ONTO COLOR! Color is huge for Fall. Mustard. Purple. Grey. Khaki. Metallics. Mixed proportions — this is HUGE. Mix an over-the-knee boot with tiny dress for example. Masculine looks for women — everyone should own some version of that as well.”

How do you choose what merchants carry JC shoes?

“They choose us to some extent. We believe in brand loyalty. We try to cater to those who have been loyal to us since we started. We try to respect our clients and their locations — we try to have FUN clients.”

You must meet a ton of die-hard JC fanatics. Are there any particulars that stand out among the rest?

“There are some crazy regular emailers… fans who have seen a JC shoe in an airport, or cafe somewhere… and are now on the hunt for it! We got a lot of iPhone pics with a note that says… ‘I NEED THIS BY FRIDAY.'”

I noticed Chelsea Handler from Chelsea Lately was wearing a pair of Marly’s awhile back and Terri Hatcher has them in black. What other celebs can be spotted in JC?

“Chelsea Handler!! I love her… I did not know that. We are lucky… lots of cute celebs like JC. Zooey, Kate Bosworth, Nicole Richie, Fergie… One of our favorites is Agyness Deyn — the famous model. She is often seen wearing JC on her super model feet. Also, our sandals do well with the LA celeb set, Nicki Hilton and Kate Hudson.”

What in your experience and opinion, are the key elements that make a particular JC shoe a best seller?

“Our best sellers all seem to have one thing in common. They have to SPEAK to the masses. And by that I mean, they have to fill a void… regardless of its a cute flat, or a crazy heel — it’s strange. It’s unique and what people are looking for to complete their look. If we make a shoe that applies to lots of people — we know we are on the right path.”

With that being said, is proud to announce the arrival of the Jeffrey Campbell Michelle Ruffle Unicorn Heel! Thank you to Jeffrey Campbell shoes and Ty McBride!